‘Where Is Justin Trudeau?’ That’s the Question as Truckers Go Into High Gear
Rounding up some highlights and lowlights of news coverage outside the U.S.
While plenty of journalists in the U.S. have come out swinging liberally against the Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates, Canada’s National Post asked, “Where is Justin Trudeau?” The accompanying article from the New Democratic Party leader, Jagmeet Singh, criticized what many in Canada have seen as the prime minister’s absentee leadership. Regardless of whether the convoy protesters start to make their way home, as Mr. Trudeau politely asked in a subsequent emergency debate in parliament, one thing is clear: Canadian politics haven’t been this interesting since Rob Ford, Toronto’s sobriety-challenged mayor, crashed onto the international scene in 2014.
With the Pegasus spyware scandal roiling much of Israel’s suddenly indignant political class, Israeli news site Walla weighs in with an article on the appointment of Gali Baharav-Miara as the country’s first female attorney general. The headline says one of her first priorities will be investigating allegations that the police made improper use of Pegasus to spy on Israeli government officials and private citizens alike. The police commissioner, Kobi Shabtai, is apparently in the line of fire. Haaretz reports he has cut short an official visit to the United Arab Emirates to face the music in Jerusalem.
While Covid complaints and President Macron dominate French headlines, Le Figaro reports on the opening of a formal inquiry into death threats made against 34-year-old journalist Ophélie Meunier following the broadcast of her “Forbidden Zone” report on radical Islam in the northern French city of Roubaix. One of the scenes stirring up social media fury, according to the newspaper, shows a “Muslim shop selling faceless dolls, the saleslady assuring that Islam forbids the representation of human features on dolls.”
Looming large in the background, of course, is the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo, when two French Muslim brothers opened fire on the Paris office of the satirical weekly, killing 12 people. Roubaix, well known in France as a rough place rife with post-industrial urban decay, is roughly equidistant between Paris and London, where the Telegraph howled, “French left-wing ‘abandon’ journalist who received death threats over radical Islam film.” This despite an op-ed piece in the left-leaning Le Monde unambiguously coming to Ms. Meunier’s defense.
Remember Greta Thunberg? The young climate activist may have temporarily receded from international headlines, but she is making the news in her native Sweden for demonstrating against the government’s plan to break ground on a huge iron ore mine in the country’s north. Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reminds that eight years ago police and protesters scuffled over test drilling at the Kallak mine site. Like most of Sweden’s iron mines Kallak is situated in Lapland, home not only of vast mineral deposits but also reindeer and the indigenous Sámi people who herd them.
Did the storied rivalry between Athens and Sparta ever really die? You’d never guess it from a glance at this morning’s Greek press, which recounts in unsparing detail what happened when the mayor of Sparta, Petros Doukas, claimed in a meeting broadcast live on Facebook that his New Democracy party won the 2007 elections only because it handed out cash to wildfire victims. This provoked the ire of Athens, as Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who also happens to be New Democracy’s president. promptly fired him.
Enthusiasm for the Beijing Winter Olympics may be at a low ebb globally, but Chinese fans can’t seem to get enough of the panda mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, meaning “chubby ice child.” The South China Morning Post reports that figurines are flying off the shelves and lines of eager customers have formed outside stores. Some who don’t want to wait are creating DIY versions and then posting their Bing Dwen Dwen-shaped sweet dumplings and cakes on Weibo, the microblogging site.
President Putin is something of a mascot as well. The Russian news agency Znak reports that 323 blocks of hashish have washed up somewhere on the Libyan shore — each one wrapped in plastic and imprinted with a small portrait of the Russian strongman smoking what appears to be a cigarette. Seems that drug smugglers frequently use photos of famous people to decorate their packages.